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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says he has learned to deal with, but not accept, defeat. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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IOWA CITY, Ia. — A key defensive piece is back for Iowa ahead of Saturday's big home showdown.

Hawkeyes middle linebacker Kristian Welch will start against No. 7 Minnesota, ending a multi-week absence that has left No. 22 Iowa scrambling a bit on defense. Welch returns for the first time since getting injured against Penn State on Oct. 12. 

"He'll make out team better," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on the pregame show.  

It's been touch-and-go the last month for Welch, who's dealt with what Ferentz has continuously called a stinger and not a concussion. Welch will regain the spot Dillon Doyle and Jack Campbell manned the last few weeks. 

Elsewhere on defense, top cornerback Michael Ojemudia was seen in street clothes during pregame warmups and will miss the Minnesota contest. Riley Moss, who made his first career start last season against the Golden Gophers, will start Saturday as well.      

Moss took over for Ojemudia last week late in the Wisconsin loss. The Ankeny Centennial product will need to be on his game against Minnesota's potent offensive attack.  

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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